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Not my horse
#1
My boyfriends boss owns an Arab, and the bosses wife said I can ride her. Well, I'm not the most familiar person when it comes to riding, but I'm not too bad in other respects. This horse, Ebony, can be a little skittish at first when you get on her. I'm not scared of her, shes tiny compared to the horses Ive worked with. But I want to make the riding both safe and enjoyable for both her and I. Would anyone be able to give me a few tips and maybe a few reminder tips on riding(haven't rode in a few months). Thank you for any and all help.
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#2
Hi Whippet, and welcome to[de].

It's great that you have a horse to ride, but there are some things to consider. First of all, any horse can hurt you regardless of size. That makes no difference. A little horse can hurt you just the same as a big horse. So, the important thing is to be on your toes and watch her every move until you know her better. I'd spend a lot of time just getting to know her from the ground before I would attempt to ride her. Spend time grooming her, standing near her & observing her behavior. The more you know about her personality, the better prepared you'll be when you begin riding her.

As for riding, most Arabians usually have a lot of energy... not all of them, but most of them. I would advise that you either lunge or round pen her before you ride to take the edge off and to get her to focus on you.

Another thing I'd be leery of when riding someone else's horse is liability. Do you know the owners very well? Do you have any idea about who would pay for any damage that could happen to you or the horse or even the property that you will be riding on? There are many factors to consider before you even swing that first leg over this mare.

Do you have the proper attire to ride? I insist on my students to dress in jeans or riding breeches, riding boots or shoes with a promenant heel(no sneakers/tennis shoes), and most important of all, a certified riding helmet. I also insist on a shirt with sleeves... no sleeveless shirts.

As for riding tips, the door is wide open. Is there anything specific you have in mind that can narrow down what you would like to know? How is the mare trained and what riding style will you be doing? What cues are she familiar with and how do you give them to the best advantage? Is she just broke in, green broke, or a season horse? How old is she and how much riding has been done on her? All these things will factor in, and the more details you can give us, the easier it will be for us to answer your questions.

So, fire away... we're ready & waiting[Smile][Wink].
"God forbid that I should go to any heaven in which there are no horses"
--Robert Browning

Don't walk in front of me, I may not follow. Don't walk behind me, I may not lead. Just walk beside me and be my friend.
-- Author Unknown
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#3
By her being small and all, I meant that Im not as intimidated as I would be around a bigger horse I didnt know well. So I'm a little more confident, but still cautious. As far as I know she is ridden in the summer by the wife and son. She hasn't thrown anyone, and she listens quite nicely. Im not too informed when it comes to horses, unless it has to do with race horses. But then they were never rode, and they were worked with everyday, and never had the time to misbehave even if they wanted to. So thats my experience.

Ebonys owner doesn't have a round pen or anything like that. She is in a pasture and is left alone most of the time.

I have the right attire, I always wear jeans, and I have cowboy boots that are my everyday wear. And I would wear a jacket anyhow. As for the helmet, I dont have one but am planning on getting that BEFORE I get up on Ebony.

Liability is on me. She told me I can ride when I like as long as if something were to happen, shes not in trouble. I know its probably not the best, but one thing I was taught was how to hang on when a horse bucks. This was the first thing I was taught when taught to ride. So I am confident, and sure of my decision.

I'm not too sure how old she is, but shes around 5-6 yrs. I'm going to be riding western on her, as both her and I are most familiar. The one thing is that the owner says that she kinda takes off when you first get up, but I was taught that you put one foot in the stirrup and go with the horse until they stop moving. Thats about it for now. After I see her again(today was raining bad), I'll tell more.

Oh, and I cant go too often because I dont drive. I get a ride from my father or take a bus as far as possible then walk a couple of miles. So it wouldn't be possible for me to go more than twice a week.
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#4
Sorry I misunderstood your referal to the mare's size. She may have not thrown anyone, and probably never will, but any horse can throw a rider if the circumstances are right.

I mentioned round penning or lunging because you said she has a tendency to be "a little skittish at first". Working her on a lunge line for 10 or 15 minutes before you ride (since you don't have a round pen handy) would be a great idea to get her to settle and focus on you. Any ground work with a horse you are going to ride frequently is alway beneficial and will keep you from any unexpected surprises.

I still worry about the liability issue. How well do you know the mare's owners? Well enough that you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that they won't sue you if their mare is injured and they blame you for it? If you are out there with this mare by yourself, how can you prove that some injury that may happen to this mare wasn't caused by you? And what would happen if you did accidentally injure her? They could sue you and/or drag you through court. I know you think that it'll never happen, and it very well may go that way, but you must look at it from all possible angles. I would suggest that you and the owners write up some kind of agreement to cover these things and both parties sign it with each of you keeping a copy. That's the only way you can be 100% sure of what is expected of you when you ride this mare, and what you can expect from the owners. I'm just thinking of your well being and keeping you safe...that's all.

Another thing to consider is that you should never ride alone. But if this isn't possible, please make sure that someone knows where you are riding and for how long. That way if you do have a wreck, someone can find you if you can't make it back to the barn. And don't laugh at my thoughts about you possibly ending up like this, because it's happened to me. Even the gentlest horse in the world can seriously hurt you. I honestly hope that you don't end up in a situation like this, but it's best to take precautions in case it does. After all, we are talking about an animal that weights 900 to a 1000 pounds, and an accident can happen in the wink of an eye... and you don't know this mare all that well so you can possibly know how she will react to certain cercumstances.

If you can see her at least twice a week, I do think that I'd be doing some ground work with her for several weeks before I'd even think of riding her. Sounds like she needs some brushing up on manners... especially if she won't stand for you to mount her... along with some lunging to take the edge off so she won't be so skittish at the beginning of your ride.

Please understand that all this is just because I'm concerned with your safety and the safety of the horse. I'm not trying to say that you're a poor rider or don't know how to ride. Far from it. Even those of us who have ridden for years still have the occassional wreck. It's just one of those things that cannot be foreseen until it happens.

Ride safe[Wink].
"God forbid that I should go to any heaven in which there are no horses"
--Robert Browning

Don't walk in front of me, I may not follow. Don't walk behind me, I may not lead. Just walk beside me and be my friend.
-- Author Unknown
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#5
Thank you very much for your advice. And I will have a liabilty contract written up. Basically saying they dont sue me if something happens to the horse and I dont sue them if something happens to me.

Well, I went out to see her today. It was myself and my b/f with my father. Plus there are always people on the property, so I'd never really be alone. We brushed her and I led her around a little. She is a stubborn horse. Probably very spoiled too. Well, my b/f wanted to ride her so I said fine. We saddled her and he got up. She stayed still until his leg was over then she took right off. I guess it was my fault, he has ridden less than I, but he was so cocky. Well he pulled back on the reins quite hard and it wasn't good. She started her own rodeo. She bucked him off in less than 3 seconds. He was fine other than a scraped knee. She took off and I went after her. She stopped at the fence, and when my b/f caught up he took a hold of her halter. I told him to let go, I was going to ride her back ( I am a little nuts- you dont have to tell me). So I got up and she took off down the road. I hung on and screamed "WHOA!!!". I pulled on the reins but not too hard, I seen what good that does. She eventually stopped. Oh when she did I told her how good of a devil horse she was. I rode her back with out any trouble and put her away.

I'm going to go out again. I like her. I'm not sure why but I think her and I kinda understand each other. I won't give in, thats not me. The only problem I found is the saddle is too big for me. So I'm going to have to find a saddle, or get fat. I think I'll try and find another saddle. I also noticed her feet need to be trimmed. They're not bad, but its from over the winter. So if the owners will do that, then I will ride her again. If not, I'll find another horse. Also they dont even have a lead rope for her. They have a length of nylon (like on a lead) just without a latch. And they also don't have a lunge line or anything of that sort. I'm going to have a friend who trains horses, out there with me next time and see what he thinks. He was the one who taught me to ride.
So if there is anything else, let me know. Im very happy to hear the input.
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#6
im glad that your bf is ok (yep they can be so cocky sometimes) and am glad your still alive as well sounds a bit scarey for me what happened
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#7
She may be spoiled, like you said, but I'm betting it's more because she probably hasn't been ridden in quite awhile. I'm glad everyone is okay. This is the reason I suggested working her on a lunge line before riding her. This will take that edge off and get her to focus more on you.

I'm glad you are going to have a trainer come out with you. Hopefully, he can give you more help than we can since he will be right there and can evaluate this mare and give you pointers first hand.

Maybe I'm misinterpreting something, but you said your boyfriend took hold of her halter? If she has this much energy, I'd definitely suggest riding her with a bridle... unless you did mean "bridle" and not "halter"? [Big Grin][Wink]
"God forbid that I should go to any heaven in which there are no horses"
--Robert Browning

Don't walk in front of me, I may not follow. Don't walk behind me, I may not lead. Just walk beside me and be my friend.
-- Author Unknown
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#8
She had both on, I was advised that with her to leave her halther on while her bridle was on. And also like I said, she would've been lunged first but there wasn't a lunge line, there wasn't even a decent lead rope. So I worked with what I had. And I think it actually went pretty well (for me, not my b/f). I'm going to see if I can convince then to get a saddle that fits better( the owners g/f who rides her, is smaller than me, so no way she fits into that saddle), and a few other things.

I was also wating to know, how do you use a lunge line? I've seen it done many times but have never done it myself.
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#9
You might want to check out this topic where I was explaining some principles on lunging:

http://www.dailyequine.com/forums/topic.asp?ARCHIVE=true&topic_ID=9348whichpage=1

If you still have questions, feel free to ask them, and I'll do my best to answer them[Wink].

Okaaaay? I tried to post the link to a certain topic, and it obviously didn't work[:I]. So, here is the initial post from that topic when I was helping troy out (and maybe someone can give me some pointers on how to post links to other topics?[Smile]):

First question, Troy, is how long is your lead? Most lunge lines are at least 20 feet long and can be a handful if you don't know how to keep it neatly in your hand until you are ready to let it out as your horse goes out on the circle. And by all means, don't hold it in any manner where it could trap your hand if your horse bolts.

Another thing: The horse shouldn't be pulling you around. The line shouldn't have any slack in it and should never be dragging on the ground where you could possibly trip over it or be tangled up in it. From here on when I say walking toward his rear or his fore, I mean to walk to the side from where you are standing inside the circle your horse is making.

It sounds to me like Gabriel has been lunged before if he moved out so willingly. Basically what you need to do is make sure, when you are facing him as he moves around you on the line, that you are lined up more with his rear than his fore(near the head). Your position and body language will urge him to go forward. If you wish him to slow down you want to be lined up more with his head. And to stop you should be ahead of him. Like you said, it's a whole lot easier to demonstrate this than to try and tell it.

It's not uncommon to find yourself walking a smaller circle inside the circle the horse is on. Most of us do this when lunging. You will find that the calmer you make your movements, the slower and calmer your horse will move. The more aggresive your moves the more the horse will move faster and away from you.

Just like a round pen, it usually doesn't take a horse long to understand that coming to you in the center is a place to rest. Use this as your reward for responding correctly to your aids. Otherwise, keep him out on the circle until he performs correctly.

Depending on your body language, a horse can do anything on a lunge line that he can from the saddle. Here's some examples of things you can try:

Have him walk off and ask for a trot. See if you can slow him down or speed him up(You can try this at a walk or a canter, too). Have him do some halts. Hint: when he stops, don't let him take the first step forward until you tell him to. I'd let him face you at first when he stops if he wants to. After he gets used to stopping completely at all gaits, see if you can keep him from facing you. If you get too much toward his fore, he will reverse, so you will have to experiment and see where it works best with Gabriel.

Teach him to reverse by walking more to his fore(at a distance. You don't have to walk toward him to do this) and giving a verbal cue. Anything will work, but I usually say "Hup!". The reverse doesn't have to be done quickly, at first, but can be done slowly. The first few times you try this should probably be done after a stop unless Gabriel already knows how. Then try it at a walk before trying it at a faster gait.

Once a horse gets the idea, he'll reverse quickly at any gait, and then it can be fun. You can then start doing transitions like making him go from a trot to a canter or a canter to a trot. Or have him canter, stop, reverse, and take off in a trot. There are hundreds of different combinations you can try, and as your horse gets better with his responses, you can ask for them very quickly.

The benefits from this kind of training is enormous. You will find your horse will be much more responsive to your legs aids and your voice once you ride him like you have taught him on the lunge line.

I've also discovered that my horses will listen to me from a distance when they are free without me ever touching them. One day Terra was going into Dove's stall by mistake. I hollered at her, "NO!" She immediately stopped looked things over, backed out, and went into her own stall. I think she didn't realize she was in the wrong place.

So, in conclusion, it'd still be best if someone can show you how, Troy, but I hope I've helped you understand the basics and where it can lead.

Whippet: You might ask your trainer/friend to show you how to lunge, but like I said, I'll help you any way I can[Smile].
"God forbid that I should go to any heaven in which there are no horses"
--Robert Browning

Don't walk in front of me, I may not follow. Don't walk behind me, I may not lead. Just walk beside me and be my friend.
-- Author Unknown
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#10
Thank you very much. The soonest he can get out there is by late next week. I will have to talk to the boss first of course. So when we do get out there again, I will let you know how its going. And maybe, before then I may just find another horse to ride, that will be less of a danger to me.
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